Chalk one up to solidarity

At least at the local level, the nation’s labor movement is as united today as it was eight months ago, before the formation of a competing labor federation threatened the demise of local and state labor councils.

The AFL-CIO announced March 21 that 933 locals of Change to Win unions have applied for “Solidarity Charters” which allow them to remain connected to state federations and central labor councils even if their national union has disaffiliated from the AFL-CIO. Affiliation with the AFL-CIO through the solidarity charter program has brought participation in state and local federations up to the level it was before seven unions left the AFL-CIO last summer, the federation said. The local affiliations demonstrate “tremendous support at the grassroots union movement level for working as one movement to be most effective in politics, organizing and the fight-back against corporate America’s war on workers.”

CLCs move on HR 676

Here’s a good example of what unites labor. Central labor councils in Albany, N.Y., Cleveland, and Butler County, Pa., have added their endorsements to HR 676, the single-payer solution to the health care crisis. HR 676 would cover every person in the U.S. for all necessary medical care including drugs, hospital dental, mental rehab, vision and long term care without deductibles and co-pays.

CTW says ‘Make work pay!’

At its first organizing convention, held last week in Las Vegas, the Change to Win federation unveiled plans for “creating a new model for cross-union organizing.” The week of April 24, the new federation will launch its “Make Work Pay” campaign targeting major industries in 35 cities. Local cross-union campaign teams “will work together as single entities to unite workers in their cities,” according to a statement from the federation.

The power of a well-organized workforce can turn low wage jobs into “solid middle-class jobs,” said CTW President Anna Burger. She pointed to “jobs that will continue to provide vital services in the coming years — in transportation, distribution, retail, construction, leisure and hospitality, health care, property services, laundries, food production and processing, and other services.”

Pride at Work hits Ford boycott

Pride at Work, the AFL-CIO constituency group focused on full equality for workers of all sexual orientations, expressed disappointment, though not surprise, at an anti-gay boycott instigated against the Ford Motor Co. by the American Family Association.

AFA’s boycott campaign attacks the auto manufacturer for “funding homosexual groups which promote homosexual marriage.” Supporting the fight for marriage equality, providing domestic partner benefits, and offering diversity trainings for employees are among the list of charges against Ford listed on the website of a coalition of 19 conservative anti-gay groups who are managing the boycott.

“It is unfortunate that the progress unions have worked long and hard for — not only in the form of benefits and policies, but toward perceivably fair workplaces — is being fought,” said Dan Sturgis, United Auto Workers member and Pride At Work board member in a March 20 statement.

Iraqi speaker at AFL-CIO

Iraqis are united against the U.S. occupation of their nation, an Iraqi speaker told 80 listeners at a forum sponsored by U.S. Labor Against the War held at the AFL-CIO headquarters March 15, PAI reported.

Dr. Rashid Zidan, a Baghdad pharmacist who runs an organization caring for widows and orphans, spoke after USLAW unveiled its new film documenting last year’s U.S. tour by six Iraqi labor leaders and subsequent developments of antiwar views within the union movement. After the forum, participants formed a candlelight march to the White House a block away.

Verizon steals union label

The Communications Workers union plans to sue Verizon in federal court in Philadelphia for attaching the CWA logo, without permission, to uniforms made by nonunion manufacturers, PAI reports. Verizon managers distributed the CWA-tagged threads to workers in Pennsylvania and Delaware. CWA District 13 VP Jim Short said that putting the union’s logo on nonunion apparel tarnished CWA’s reputation. “Members have died on the picket line fighting for justice while wearing the CWA logo,” he pointed out.

‘He’s an angel’

Letter Carrier Branch 120 President Joseph Murone in Paterson, N.J., was walking his route one morning just before 6 a.m. when he saw a fire erupt from a home. He ran up the steps and started pounding on the door, right in the face of the fire. “I was doing everything I could to wake people up — yelling and screaming and banging on the windows,” he said. It worked. Waleska Morales, her sister-in-law and three children woke up and escaped. “I’m starting to believe he’s an angel,” Morales said of Murone. “I mean, what’s a mailman doing around at that hour anyway?”

This Week in Labor is compiled by Roberta Wood (
Press Associates Inc. contributed.